New play Remembers Holocaust, Celebrates Anne Frank’s 90th Birthday at Museum of Tolerance

LOS ANGELES (May 2, 2019) — In observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Simon Wiesenthal Center today announced casting for a new play about Anne Frank that will celebrate what would have been her 90th birthday this summer.

Eve Brandstein will direct Timothy P. Brown, Rob Brownstein, Tony DeCarlo, Andrea Gwynnel, Ava Lalezarzadeh, Kevin Matsumoto, Mary Gordon Murray, Aylam Orian and Marnina Schon in the U.S. premiere of Anne by Dutch playwrights Jessica Durlacher and Leon de Winter — in a never-before-seen adaptation by Nick Blaemire. Suzi Dietz will produce.

In this new adaptation of the immortal Holocaust story, 13 year-old Anne Frank imagines her life as a young woman — safe in a post-war world. When she meets a publisher who expresses interest in her story, Anne looks back on the two years she spent hidden away with her family during the Nazi regime.

This innovative production eschews traditional sets and costumes to place the audience and actors on the same dramatic plane as the characters — all real people under real circumstances — fighting for their lives, sanity and dreams of the future.

Previews will begin June 5, with performances taking place June 16 through July 22 at the Museum of Tolerance.

Kevin Dennis: A Broadway Star in the Making

April 6, 2019

Recently completing a starring role in the world premiere of Paradise Square at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in the San Francisco Bay Area, KEVIN DENNIS has been a rising star in Canada since the late 1990s. He has landed leading roles in stage productions by respected theatre companies such as Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown, the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, as well as Toronto’s Canadian Stage Company.

On television he has been seen in recurring roles on CBC’s Murdoch Mysteries and 11.22.63 opposite James Franco on Hulu/Bad Robot, as well as guest appearances on Reign (CW/CBS), Orphan Black (Space/BBC America), Warehouse 13 (Syfy), Flashpoint (CTV/CBS), Mayday! (Discovery), Queer As Folk (Showtime) and Emily of New Moon (CBC).

Kevin Dennis

Beyond his work in front of the camera, Kevin has garnered over one hundred animation credits to date with voice-over roles in cartoons such as Busytown Mysteries (CBC/CBS), Redekai (Cartoon Network), Super Why! (PBS), Cyberchase (PBS) and Tabaulga and Lilli (Sony Pictures Classics).

We sat down with Kevin to talk about his life, his career and his rise to fame.

Hollywood Revealed: When did you first realize you had an interest in the arts?

Kevin Dennis: As a child, I was always drawn to the camera, as well as the stage. My parents put me into community drama classes and theatre at age eight, where I excelled in front of an audience. I started acting in front of the camera at the age of twelve, appearing on successful Canadian TV shows like Ready or Not, Squawk Box and Nikita.

HR: Where was you first appearance in public? High school?

KD: My first role was Augustus Gloop in a community performance of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Oakville Centre of the Arts. I was nine-years-old. I really enjoyed the adoring audience of parents and grandparents.

HR: Did you decide then and there to be an actor?

KD: That was it! I truly found what would become my life’s work. Plus, who wouldn’t like it when people clap for you at the end of your work day?

HR: How did you get your ACTRA card?

KD: Actually, I joined both Canadian Actors’ Equity (stage union) and ACTRA the same summer, at the age of nineteen. For CAEA membership I was selected out of hundreds of Toronto actors to join the cast of Forever Plaid at the Charlottetown Festival. I had just graduated high school and it was my first full summer away from my parents. I had also become legal-drinking age in Canada. I’ll just say it was one hell of a summer and an amazing gig. While performing in PEI, I was approached by the CBC to audition for a role on Emily of New Moon which was shooting on the island at the time. I managed to book the role and got to play opposite Martha MacIsaac (Superbad, Family Guy) and joined ACTRA as a result.

HR: Sounds amazing. So would you say that was your luckiest break in the entertainment business?

KD: No, I’d say my luckiest break came in front of the camera in 2014. I decided to shift my attention from a highly successful stage career to try and get more focus on film and television. It wasn’t all glory, trust me. I became highly skilled at waiter-ing, interior painting and special event service. But thankfully, the auditions started surfacing regularly for American TV shows being shot in and around Toronto. My biggest break was being cast in the pilot episode of The Strain for the FX Network. The best part of that gig was that I got to spent four days under the direction of Guillermo del Toro, who recently won the Academy Award as Best Director for The Shape of Water.

Kevin Dennis, Adrienne Merrell in “Young Frankenstein”

HR: Nice. Have you managed to stay in touch with him?

KD: Actually, I have. We spoke recently about working together again, so I am grateful for having met him and hopeful it will happen. I also got to work and become acquaintances with Carlton Cuse, the Emmy Award-Winning Executive Producer of the hit TV show Lost.

HR: How much of a role does networking play in an actor’s success?

KD: Like training and auditioning, networking is an integral part of the daily routine of a professional actor. You can`t wait by the phone for roles to come to you. It is essential to put your product out there and make new connections.

HR: What’s been your favorite role to date?

KD: For stage, the leading role of Frederick in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein at Stage West was one of my absolute favorites. While no one can duplicate what Gene Wilder did, it was exhilarating to play these classic comedy scenes in front of a live audience eight times a week. I also got to play the role opposite my lovely and talented wife, Adrienne Merrell which was a dream come true!

HR: Does being married to another performer help or hinder?

KD: Definitely helps. We understand each other. We both realize that we are in it to win it, so we better make it work!

HR: What were the challenges of playing the role of Mike Quinlan in your last show Paradise Square at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre?

KD: It was very exciting to see my role expand into a larger, adversarial one during rehearsals and development of the show. The play digs deep into the roots of American politics, immigration and race-relations, which made it extremely poignant for the acting company and audience. My character went to the Civil War, came home badly injured to discover his job was taken and a Federal Draft had been issued. What better drama could you ask for as an actor? As the story unfolded, my character was given some very radical dialogue. In the second act, after I delivered one of my final lines, I could hear the audience literally gasp while they shifted in their seats. That’s the power of live theatre. That is why I want to continue this pursuit in the United States, the biggest theater market in the world.

Kevin Dennis in “Paradise Square.”

HR: How much of an impact does social media have on an actor’s career in this day and age?

KD: While I love posting videos of me goofing off, or pics of my cat, there is simply no denying the power and reach of social media. Facebook, I keep mainly for the fun stuff. Twitter is strictly professional. Instagram is a hybrid of the two. I enjoy posting about my professional experiences in theatre and on screen and seeing how far it can go. It’s a great tool to get your portfolio exposed to a wider audience. Plus, producers look to see how you represent yourself online and how many engagements your posts create.

HR: So, what’s next?

KD: I’m currently in Toronto re-immersing myself in the film and television scene. I had a great guest spot on Murdoch Mysteries last year, and I’m now looking at some on-screen roles for the spring and summer. Beyond that, Paradise Square has a very solid chance of making it to Broadway in the next few months, and that has always been the biggest dream of my life.

HR: Let’s hope it comes true. Thanks for chatting with us, Kevin.

KD: Thank you.

Building a Career In Hollywood Takes Time and a Commitment To Finding Your True Identity

As the fight for human rights marches on, it’s usually minorities that carry the burden of educating the majority. Regardless of where the disparity occurs, it takes a constant effort and spotlight aimed at what needs to be changed.

In Hollywood, artists continue to shoulder a good portion of this burden by creating works, taking on roles that portray characters that have been marginalized, and producing stories that are able to penetrate the hearts and minds of those with traditional or old-fashioned attitudes. Theatre artists are particularly adept at creating these stories.

Writer Neil Koenigsberg took up the challenge of creating a play that looks at discrimination against sexual orientation, and gender questioning individuals. “Volunteering at a New York LGBTQ center for homeless youth was a transformative experience for me,” says Neil Koenigsberg. “It became the inspiration for WINK. I wanted to tell a story about a non-binary kid, about the unexpected connections that happen in life and how it can forever inspire and change us.”

Taking place in Hollywood, the title role in “Wink” is played by non-binary actor Andrik Ochoa. The journey to finding their own identity has been a long and challenging one for Andrik, but well worth the work. Finding the perfect role in WINK feels synchronistic, not unlike the meeting of the two lead characters in Koenigsberg’s play.

HR: What drew you to this story and inspired you to audition for the role of “Wink?”

Andrik: At first, I was just curious about the audition and excited about getting back to acting after taking a break. As soon as I read this phrase in the play, “Nowadays youth describe their sexuality by not describing it,” I fell in love. I haven’t been able to find better words to describe my own life. Neil Koenigsberg’s play was a sign, “like poetry,” it became something very personal.

HR: Why do you think that it’s important this play is being done in Los Angeles now?

Andrik: Gender Identity censorship can be a horrifying prison. It is not easy to understand unless you’re going through (that hell). It takes emotional intelligence and sensitivity, and even then sometimes that magical connection of understanding someone else’s life can only be done through stories like “Wink.” Theatre, movies, and TV reach out and change the world, hearts and minds, faster than any political agenda or law. That’s why I think it’s a crucial time for this play to be done in Los Angeles. The conversation is topical and well integrated in a broadening consciousness for parity. I think we need that right now I believe if we all get to be our true selves we’ll be so content there will be no room for hate, frustration or anger.

HR: Would you share some of your personal journey that relates to similar experiences?

Andrik: Truth is I’m a “Wink.” I came here the first time as an exchange student. I met the first girl who ever treated me like a guy and I fell in love like an idiot, it helped me realize who I was. She was the first one I came out to. Once I put enough courage together I returned to LA to think things through next to her, away from my family. I started transitioning with the support of the LGBT center. Over the holidays was the first time that I saw my family in 3 years. Now my mom calls me “Mijito,” my (little) son.

HR: What pronouns do you prefer?

Andrik: I’m ok with any, even though he/his is my favorite. It is who I always dreamed of being and my social statement. They/them is not easy for everyone but I appreciate when people use it. I don’t mind and I even like being called She sometimes because, even while being a man I realized I was faking and trapped as much as I was when I was a woman. I understood that a huge part of who I truly am is actually feminine. So at some point I just said f*#! it, enough about having to explain myself, I’m going to be true to my heart every moment and stop worrying about boxes.

HR: Building a career in Hollywood is not easy. What have been the biggest challenges for you so far?

Andrik: Being who I am has been a double bladed sword. As an outsider, an immigrant and a gender rebel, of course is been harder to find a place in this industry.

But, at the same time, once you find that place it becomes yours, and it will take you far because it’s honest. If I weren’t who I am and hadn’t gone through the struggle that I faced, I would have nothing to say. Finding who I am was the biggest change! Before that, all my emotions were like far behind a wall. It made acting so much easier. I can’t believe how much that has changed. It’s like magic.

Wink continues this weekend at 8pm on Friday and Saturday, and at 3pm on Sunday. Zephyr Theatre is at 7456 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90046. Tickets $15 – $45.

Reservation and information at www.Plays411.com/Wink and 323-960-1055. Wheelchair access and ample street parking.

Tracie Lockwood Shines in “Hostage” at the Skylight Theatre

If you keep a list of rock solid A-list stage actresses in Hollywood, then you’re already familiar with the name Tracie Lockwood. Winner of a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Featured Performance (A Permanent Image at Rogue Machine), Tracie also garnered two nominations for Supporting Actress from the Los Angeles Stage Alliance Ovation Awards and from Stage Raw, as well as six other ensemble awards for productions she has appeared in Los Angeles.

Currently, Tracie is on stage at the Skylight Theatre in a new play called Hostage by Michelle Kholos Brooks. One of the most compelling, heart rendering productions currently showing in L.A., Hostage is based on a little known but true story the story took place during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. A rogue mother from Wisconsin travels to Iran to save her son who has been taken prisoner by the Iranian revolutionaries. It is a highly personal take on the incident and uncovers an unexpected connection between two disparate cultures. At a time when the U.S. State Department was unable to help the hostages during the 444 day stand off, the human spirit proved bigger than politics.

Tracie is dynamic as “Barbara Timm,” the mother who makes the trip against all odds, and L.A. audiences are once again taking notice of her strength as an actress. The Los Angeles Times noted “Lockwood’s deceptively unassuming performance is a beacon of authenticity that lights the stage…emotionally shattering.”

Zachary Grant and Tracie Lockwood

We were able to sit down with her between shows to find out more about her role and the play:

HR: Why did you want to take on this role?

Tracie: Because it spoke to me on a cellular level. I am a mother myself; the story is very compelling for two major reasons. First, the idea that this is based on a true story…that Barbara, the character I play, actually did this crazy thing despite her governments objections. She gets on a plane and flies to a hostile country to ask her sons captors to release him, that’s just a beautiful crystallization of what it means to be a mother and what lengths you are willing to go to for your children.

Second, because, especially as a mom, at this point in our political climate it seemed very important to me to tell stories that reflect our common humanity and fragility. At its core, this story asks us to stop demonizing each other as merely reflections of our politics, governments or belief systems and asks us to look at one another as humans with different but equally relevant worldviews.

Cast of “Hostage”

HR: What was the most difficult part about preparing for this role?

Tracie: Honestly, this show was a not difficult. The cast is wonderful, Michelle the writer, and Elina de Santos, the director (who are both mother’s themselves) are incredible and collaborative artists who encouraged us to really play and explore and to keep the central story of a mothers love front and center in our minds, so I got a lot for free.

Maybe the only danger is getting too comfortable in the repetition of doing it over and over and allowing yourself to forget for even a moment how truly shocking, harrowing, and brave the whole thing really was. I think about how quickly your comfortable situation can change, and then I am able to click right into Barb’s story.

HR: How does your experience differ at the Skylight Theatre, from other L.A. theaters?

Tracie: Somehow, at the Skylight, I always seem to get cast as a Republican. I’ve done two world premieres there, the other being Church and State by Jason Odell Williams. In both plays my characters, though wildly different, could be summed up as Republican women who start out with very conventional, conservative worldviews. They are challenged by an extraordinary event and as a result, they change slightly which in turn also challenges what are often very liberal audiences, stereotypical views on Republican women.

Cast of “Hostage”

HR: How have audiences been reacting to this play?

Tracie: Very positive. It has not been uncommon for people to contact me days after seeing the show. Many say that they are still thinking about it, processing it and being impacted by it. It’s a quick ride but such a roller coaster, and it really doesn’t give you a break emotionally once it starts. Because of the three quarter staging and the way that the two timelines weave in and out of each other, the audience is kind of in the hostage room(s). During some performances it has been so quiet in the house that you can hear a pin drop and the audience is just holding their breath waiting to see what happens and other nights the audience takes every opportunity to laugh. Michelle Kholos Brooks has very cleverly included some really funny moments to act as pressure valves that release a little tension. But, as we get to the end we can usually always hear a fair amount of sniffling in the house. We’re really proud of this production. It’s a compelling story, at a compelling time.

HR: Thanks for talking with us, Tracie.

Tracie: Thank you.

Satiar Pourvasei, Zachary Grant, Tracie Lockwood and Vaneh Assadourian

Skylight continues with their post Sunday matinee series, “Beyond Conversation,” free to audiences who attend the performance. The discussion panels allow audiences to gain deeper insights into the contemporary themes of the play. A full list of guest speakers, dates and topics will be posted on Skylight’s website http://www.skylighttheatre.org

HOSTAGE runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8:30pm; 2:00pm on Sundays; and 8:00pm on Mondays through June 24, 2018.

The cast includes Vaneh Assadourian (Tehran Mary), Jack Clinton (Kenny), Zachary Grant (Kevin), Christopher Hoffman (Richard), Tracie Lockwood (as Barbara), and Satair Pouvasei (Ebrahim)

Skylight Theatre is located at 1816 1/2 N. Vermont Ave, LA, 90027.

Tickets are $15 – $39.99. Reservations: 213-761-7061 or 866-811-4111. Online at http://SkylightTix.com

 

 

 

Bernardo Cubría Reveals the Genesis of “The Giant Void In My Soul” at The Pico in West L.A.

May 14, 2016

Ammunition Theatre Company is a fairly new, and young, artistic group in Los Angeles, known for their diversity and passion for activism. They foster young playwrights, and champion works that are crafted with inclusivity in mind.

Currently, they are presenting the world premiere of Bernardo Cubría’s latest work, The Giant Void In My Soul at The Pico (formerly Pico Playhouse). This play reaches across social, political, and cultural divides during a crisp 90-minute performance with characters, written as clowns, in a Commedia dell’ arte style. Taking on big big questions and goals in life, it still manages to mine the humor and relatable ironies that we all face when of searching for meaning in life.

Bernardo Cubría

The Giant Void In My Soul is insightful, spot on with excellent performances. We sat down with playwright Bernardo Cubría who gave us a look at how it all came about:

HR: What Was The Genesis Of This Play For You?

Bernardo: Last year, I was sitting at home one day feeling quite depressed and I recognized the absurdity yet universality of this emptiness I was feeling. Here I was -privileged enough to pursue my passion and make a living, married to an amazing partner, living in a great place with great friends, family, etc. Yet something felt off. It dawned on me – maybe we just all have a giant void in our souls? Influenced by the silence in Waiting For Godot and the friendship in Don Quijote, I banged out a first draft two days later on a flight to New York. And, surprise! The “void” is STILL NOT FILLED!

HR: How Long Did It Take For You To Write This Play?

Bernardo: About 8 months of writing on and off. But for me, these things are never done. I sit in the audience every night and think of changes I still may make for the next run. My dream is that the play keeps getting done in different venues for many years, and I that I can continue to tweak things in each of the iterations. Once, when I was acting in a production of Burn This, Lanford Wilson gave me a line change the night before opening. I thought to myself, ‘this play is an iconic masterpiece, why are you changing things?!’ Lanford said the play wasn’t finished. I get it now.

HR: Had You Considered Writing This Play With Traditional Characters Instead Of Clowns?

Bernardo: Not really. Sadly for my wallet, I see the world in terms of clowns. I love clowning because it gets to the essence of what humans are. Forget race, gender, class, etc., let’s talk about what makes humans human, and what makes this whole human experience hilarious. Also, I wanted to write a script where any actor of any race or gender could play the roles. So it kind of has to be clowns. I promise they are not scary!

HR: Can You Share Something About Your Background That Influenced You To Become The Artist That You Are Today?

My grandmother was a poet in Mexico. And I grew up in awe of her, always longing to follow in her footsteps. She was so creative. She would speak casually and it always sounded like poetry and wisdom. My favorite line in this play is something she used to say. In an effort to post no spoilers I will say it’s about how life is a theatre. She was magical. I like to think that she would have liked this play.

Directed by Felix Solis and produced by Julie Bersani and J. Michael Feldman, this cast includes Karla Mosley, Kim Hamilton, Claudia Doumit, and Lisa Fernandez in roles written for any gender or ethnicity.

The Giant Void in My Soul, by Bernardo Cubría, runs on Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays 7pm through June 3, 2018 (understudy performance on May 27th). The Pico is located at 10508 W. Pico Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90064. Tickets are $25 online https://thegiantvoid.eventbee.com, or $30 at the door. Website: http://ammunitiontheatre.com

A Fight Well Fought at “The Alamo” Now Running at Ruskin Group Theatre

by Peter Foldy

Ruskin Group Theatre continues to celebrate the essence of arts and humanity with the world premiere of THE ALAMO by Ian McRae. This is their second decade of bringing Los Angeles audiences unique staging’s of live entertainment.

The Ruskin Goup Theatre, located at the Santa Monica airport, is an intimate space with approximately 55 seats, where you can see some of the best actors in the business. Bobby Costanzo who plays Joey, an ex-cop who also narrates some background history, and Tim True who plays Munce, the long time owner of the neighborhood bar, are two actors in an ensemble of nine that keep the action lively in this play, beautifully directed by Kent Thompson.

Bobby Costanzo, Tim True, Jack Merrill and John Lacy in “The Alamo”

The play takes place in the blue-collar Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn where a rundown neighborhood institution called The Alamo; the last great American bar, is struggling to survive. With an aging clientele, the place is fighting to keeps it’s doors open and the only hope seems to be the arrival of artist/musician/millennials who are moving into the neighborhood and wanting to adopt the bar as an entertainment hangout. The regulars don’t want to surrender their bar, much less their neighborhood, without a fight which presents a humorous and dramatic portrait of working class natives who always seem to find themselves on the front lines of change in America.

Actors Bobby Costanzo (Joey) and Tim True (Munce) talk about their rewarding experience with the project:

HR: What was it about Ian McRae’s play that made you want to be involved with this production?

BC: I thought that Ian’s play was poignant, funny and had a kind of Eugene O’Neill realism as in THE ICEMAN COMETH. I loved the idea personally of being a narrator working the audience (my secret nightclub persona)and then stepping into the action of the play.

 TT: I met the director, Kent Thompson, at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. When I heard he was in LA to direct a new play, “The Alamo,” I wanted to audition. While reading the script I was drawn in by the rich tapestry of characters. It reminded me of some of the folks at my local watering hole in Astoria Queens where I lived for awhile after grad school.

HR: Had you worked together previously, or done a play at the Ruskin Theatre?

BC: I had not worked with any of the cast before but I’m very impressed with everybody’s talent and professionalism.

 TT: Never. This is my first show at Ruskin and with everyone in the cast. I moved here from Portland Oregon, where I was pretty much full time in theatre. I co-founded a company there, Third Rail, that’s been around since 2005. When I came to Los Angeles I stopped doing theatre so that I could focus on the TV/Film thing, but once I was able to gain some momentum on that side I felt that I could do both.

I love working with everyone in the cast, they are really wonderful, and particularly Eileen Galindo, who plays my wife Carmen, and Kelsey Griswold and Julia Arian, who alternate in the role of Michaela – my Goddaughter. I have 2 key scenes with those characters and we’ve gotten close during the run.

HR: Were there surprises or unexpected character discoveries during the rehearsal process?

BC: As in all good writing you get to discover that nobody is overtly evil or malicious but usually has their own sort of “Rashomon” way of looking at things, coming from their own perspective, which is either reinforced or changed by their interactions with others. I feel that “Joey” (my character in the play) sees that, after his scene with Carmen, he knows he’s been selfish and demanding of her and not appreciated her emotional and physical pain.

TT: Oh lord, I guess so. Munce is a guy, who will tell you he doesn’t have many regrets, but the fella really lives there – in the past.

HR: You both have impressive film and TV credits, and you keep coming back to the theatre. What is it that you love most about working on stage?

BC: The immediacy and challenge of “getting it up,” so to speak, and discovering the way that each audience changes inflections and deliveries of moments within the play. It is truly the actors’ medium.

TT: Theatre was my career from the moment I decided that I wanted to act, which incidentally was as a freshman in high school getting a big hug from one of the senior girls after a curtain call. I trained in the classics, performing Shakespeare for about 10 years. I really love the use of language and how aural a play is. It’s the words and phrases, sure. But I also love finding a character’s rhythm, and where he places the sound – where, in his mouth, and where, in his body he resonates from.

HR: What other projects are coming up for you after this show closes?

BC: I’ll be playing “Uncle Bud in a new comedy called Champions debuting on NBC.

TT: I’m forming a theatre company, called Door Number 3. We will present Martin McDonagh’s “The Lonesome West” at the Odyssey Theatre this fall. I’m recurring in an upcoming Netflix series…but I can’t say more without pissing off the producers and endangering my family and everyone I care about.

The Alamo runs on Fridays and Saturday at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm through May 12, 2018. Ruskin Group Theatre is located at 3000 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90405. Tickets are $27 – $30 and can be purchased in advance by calling (310) 397-3244 or online at www.ruskingrouptheatre.com . Free parking available on site.

The cast includes Bobby Costanzo (Joey), Eileen Galindo (Carmen), Nancy Georgini (Claudine), Milica Govich (Mary), Julia Arian (Micaela/Alternate), Kelsey Griswold (Micaela /Alternate), John Lacy (Dominic), Jack Merrill (Tick), and Tim True (Munce)

Running time: 1 hour and 55 minutes with one 15-minute intermission

Production Photos by Ed Krieger

 

 

Actors Dylan Wittrock and J.B. Waterman Discuss “The Red Dress”

By Peter Foldy

Set in Berlin and inspired by a true story, Tania Wisbar’s romantic drama, THE RED DRESS, currently playing at the Odyssey Theatre in West L.A, explores the intersection of politics and art during the years between the Treaty of Versailles and the rise of Fascism. The play tells story of “Alexandra Schiele,” a famous film actress from a prominent Jewish family, who falls in love with a down-on-his-luck World War I vet, “Franz Weitrek.” Franz parlays his wife’s connections into work as a film director, but when his career takes off making Nazi propaganda films, his wife suddenly becomes a liability.

We caught up with DYLAN WITTROCK who portrays “Officer Dieter Keller” and J.B. WATERMAN who plays “Franz” and asked them to share their thoughts about the show.

HOLLYWOOD REVEALED: Hi, guys.

JB Waterman

DYLAN: Hello.

HR: Can you tell us how you got involved with this production?

J.B: A cast mate of mine in a different play was working with the casting director of The Red Dress and thought I’d be a good fit for the role of Franz. He encouraged me to audition. I had worked with (director) Kiff Scholl, before and I was lucky enough to land the role.

DYLAN: I auditioned.

HR: A play about radicalization seems timely and important. Did you have much knowledge about Germany prior to WW II?

J.B: I only knew about the contradictory images, the liberal and artistic Weimar Republic Germany, depicted in the film and the play, Cabaret, and on the opposite end, the radical plays of Bertolt Brecht.

DYLAN: I knew a little about the years leading up to the war from the American and British standpoint, but I knew very little about Germany itself between the two world wars.

HR: Were you able to sit down and chat with the playwright about the story?

DYLAN: Yes, Tania being around was definitely valuable.

J.B: She and I talked a lot during rehearsals. She shared some of the differences between Franz and her real father, Frank. Franz is softer and a bit more sympathetic, than her father was.

Dylan Wittrock

DYLAN: Tania was able to provide a lot of information about what the political and social climate was like in Germany during the period between the two world wars. Her insights helped me to grasp what it would be like to grow up during that very volatile time.

HR: What was your take away from all that?

J.B: I was particularly drawn to the complexity of the German political and social situation  after World War I that she brought to my attention. It was an open marketplace for depictions of the truth and political theories.  The “truth” was being shaped by competing powers.

HR: What’s the most challenging thing about the role you guys are playing? What process did you use to shape and define your character?

J.B: I felt that Franz was not a born soldier but an artist who was forced to go to war. That’s a big piece of what I build the character around. I guess the most challenging thing was having to empathize with the Nazi party and their propaganda about Jews. There isn’t a lot of justification in the script about why Franz feel that way, so I had to come up with it myself.  I think a lot of my motivation has to do with overcoming the character’s PTSD and reclaiming what WW I took from him.  Franz believes that the Jews were suppressing German national pride and as an actor I tried to dig into believing that.

HR: What about you, Dylan?

DYLAN: Tania really wanted the audience to see my character, Dieter Keller, as someone who is coming into his own. In the second act he has total control over the other two characters, but he’s still a little green, so he gets very uncomfortable when his authority is questioned. Showing that vulnerability while still maintaining the control that the scene demands is quite a challenge, but it also gives the character nuance and depth. When you’re dealing with a character that has become almost archetypal in popular culture, you need to find every little thing about him that is unique and personal.

HR: So where are you guys from and how long have you been in L.A?

DYLAN: I was born in Lenox, Massachusetts, grew up for a few years in Chicago, then moved to LA when I was 8. I went to college in San Francisco then moved to New York for three years. Been back in LA for a year now.

J.B: I’m from Bainbridge Island, Washington. I lived in Chicago after college Moved to Los Angeles 10 years ago.

HR: When did you first know that you wanted to be an actor?

DYLAN: I was practically born on stage. My father and brother are both actors, so I grew up loving acting. I was in my first Shakespeare play when I was 5, and I’ve never stopped performing. I questioned whether I wanted to pursue acting as a career during college when I became a Spanish major. I stopped performing for about a year and was miserable, so after graduating I went right back to it.

J.B: For me it was in our community theater production of Snow White. I was only 9 but being onstage was intoxicating. I loved the lights, I loved the make believe, I loved that it was a serious play.

HR: What was your first paid acting gig? Did it get you a SAG or an Equity card?

DYLAN: It was a commercial for JC Penny that I was in when I was 13. It never aired, but I used the money to buy a drum set. I got my SAG card from one-liner on the show Power.

J.B: My first paid acting gig was as a non-equity actor in a show at the Berkshire Theatre company in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.  It was $45.00 paid per week, room and board included. I remember staring at that check in disbelief. Someone was actually paying me to do this.

HR: What TV shows have you binge watched lately?

DYLAN: Mindhunter is amazing. I’m also loving Stranger Things.

J.B: Transparent and I love Dick. Jill Soloway does such creative, risky and fun storytelling. I love her obsession with her themes; gender, identity, feminism, sex. Even when I get mad and disagree with what she does or says (in the shows) I still love that she has the balls to say them.

HR: What’s next for you guys?

J.B: I’m directing a production of Chekhov’s The Seagull in the spring that I hope will make people laugh a lot and change the world.

DYLAN: I’m looking forward to the release of a couple short films I shot last year. Other than that just trying to audition as much as possible and work on creating something of my own.

HR: Thanks for chatting, guys, and enjoy the rest of the run.

J.B: Thank you.

The Red Dress is performed: Fridays & Saturdays @ 8 pm and Sundays @ 2 p.m. thru Nov. 19 at The Oddyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd. Los Angeles, CA  90025

Running time: 1 hour and 50 minutes with one 15-minute intermission.

Tickets: $15

Call (323) 960-5521 or visit www.Plays411.com/reddress

Production Stills: Ed Kreiger

 

 

40 Years with Gonads and Still Going Strong

by Peter Foldy

THE GONADS are a beer-loving, good time seeking street-punk rock band.

Formed in 1977, the band has been gigging regularly since they got back together in 1994. Since then they’ve played France, Germany, Sweden, the USA, all over the UK. They have achieved a smash indie-chart hit with their first E.P. Pure Punk For Row People.

Music success aside, Gonads lead singer, Gal Gonad, is perhaps best known in the UK by his alter ego, GARRY BUSHELL. A hard-hitting TV critic and an award-winning newspaper columnist, Garry was a staff writer for the UK rock weekly Sounds. He has written about bands as diverse as The Specials, The Ruts and Iron Maiden as well as the street-punk phenomenon known as Oi! He has penned a series of hard-boiled pulp fiction novels and has appeared on more than 2,000 TV shows. Garry’s own late night TV show ran for two years on ITV, attaining an audience share high of 68%. Howard Stern once dubbed him “my ambassador in England”.

We caught up with Gal/Garry via skype prior to his band’s triumphant return to Los Angeles.

Hollywood Revealed: How do you feel about doing your 40th year anniversary with the Gonads right here in Hollywood, California?

Garry: I love it! It’s fantastic. Where better than the  dream factory of the Western world to celebrate a living nightmare like the magnificent Gonads?

HR: How many songs are in the new Punk Rock Sob Stories that is coming out this Christmas?

Garry: The first collection had forty songs, and the new one will be at least that many. I’m just trying to whittle them down.

HR: We understand you will be casting for a film about the Gonads while you are in Los Angeles. What is that all about?

Garry: Yes, we are holding a casting session on November 12th at Beach Dancer Films. It’s an open call and the band and I will be looking for actors to play younger versions ourselves for a movie that will start production in 2018.

HR: Besides being the lead singer of the Gonads, you are also a columnist, covering, among other things, music and television.

Garry: Correct.

HR: What is a day in the life of a TV critic like?

Garry: Long and lonely, interrupted only by the comings and goings of take-away curry deliveries. I get up, I watch TV, I make notes…then repeat, with the occasional break to walk the dog to the pub, or to relieve the frustration by playing Rancid or The Interrupters as loud as hell.

HR: How many hours a week do you have to watch TV?

Garry: At least forty, but usually more. I don’t like to miss the shows with the biggest audiences so I even keep an eye on EastEnders, the BBC’s never-ending libel against Londoners.

HR: What are your current favorite shows and what is your favorite show of all time ?

Garry: Line of Duty was excellent again this year. I’m enjoying The Deuce and I’m Dying Up Here. My all time favorite would be The Sopranos, the TV series that reinvented TV and ushered in a new golden age. For US TV, The Sopranos, Seinfeld and the early years of The Simpsons. For Brit TV, Minder, The Sweeney and Porridge. I genuinely love great TV which is why bad or patronizing shows irritate me so much.

HR: What happened with you and Piers Morgan and him printing in the papers your salary from The Gonads? Is that a true story?

Garry: Ha, almost. I had a royalty statement for our most ‘critically misunderstood’ e.p. It was a couple of bucks. Piers managed to steal it from my desk and take a picture of it which he then printed in the Bizarre showbiz column of The Sun. I’d like to apologize right now for the career of Piers Morgan because, to my eternal shame, I gave him his first job, working for me, when I ran Bizarre. He was a pompous git even then.

HR: Have you made people happy with your reviews and vice versa?

Garry: You’d have to ask them. I seem to make readers happy.

HR: Tell us about the BARFTAs?

Garry: They’re the awards I give out every year on my website for things I don’t get paid to write about – generally films, books and music.

HR: Is there a huge difference between a film critic and a TV critic ?

Garry: Absolutely. A film critic can see everything he needs to write about in under a day. Three movies and they’re done. They watch them at screenings in the West End of London in decent surroundings with a free bar…it’s a wonder they’re not transported from cinema to cinema on studio-funded palanquins.

HR: When did you first discover that you have a particular style with words which has shaped your career as a journalist ?

Garry: I used to write comedy sketches for my own amusement when I was 14 or 15 and carried some of that on when I wrote a punk fanzine in 1977. But I guess it was the Sounds years that helped developed my style, especially in the 1980s.

HR: How many books in total have you written?

Garry: Five novels – three of them pulp fiction under my own name – and thirteen other books, most of them music or comedy related.

HR: What was it like doing the autobiography on Ozzy Ozbourne, A Diary of a Mad Man?

Garry: A bit hazy. We spent 13 hours drinking on the first day, which ended with Ozzy shaving my eyebrows off. When I noticed, two days later, I was shocked…but you couldn’t tell. For various reasons I only wrote part of that book. Mick Wall wrote the rest of it.

HR: Do you spend a lot of time with your subjects?

Garry: I spent a lot of time with Iron Maiden when I wrote their authorized biography, including spells on the road with them. Bruce Dickinson nearly killed me in Florida by driving the wrong way up an exit road into four lanes of on-coming traffic. Similarly Jeff Turner’s autobiography, Cockney Reject – we spent months on that.

HR: What are you writing now?

Garry: I’m writing the fourth installment of the Harry Tyler/The Face pulp fiction series, but I’ve just been asked to write the Origins novel to tie in with the We Still Kill The Old Way film franchise, so I’m already thinking about that.

HR: How many people have written songs about you?

Garry: Quite a few – Adam Ant, Crass, The Exploited, The Notsensibles, The Warriors, the Angelic Upstarts… they’re the most well known I’d imagine. Adam Ant’s ‘Press Darlings’ was the B-side of one of his hits so for a while it seemed to be on every jukebox in every pub and every bar I went in.

HR: Where are The Gonads playing after America?

Garry: New Cross in south London for our Christmas show with the Ska legend King Hammond, and then some German dates next year.

HR: In another life who would you choose to be?

Garry: Dick Gregory’s love child.

HR: Thanks for chatting with us, Garry.

Garry: The pleasure was all mine.

 

 

 

 

Writer, Jennifer Rowland, Talks About Her Psychological Thriller, “The Lost Child”

As a fan of fairy tales, writer Jennifer Rowland has created an emotional thriller for adults, particularly harrowing for those who have parented teenagers. Writing in metaphor can be tricky, and yet the type of theatre audiences that frequent the Skylight Theatre don’t seem to mind checking their expectations, for literary realism, at the door.

An adventurous undertaking, which Rowland describes as an “allegory about parenting,” the gist of the family tale describes two perspectives of a possible abduction as a couple (now separated) meets to pack up the old cabin the woods, and to rehash old wounds. It would be the 18th birthday for the child that is now lost to them. Might she show up to blow out the candles on the cake?

The Lost Child is one of two fairy tale-like world premiere productions now running at the Skylight Theatre, a place known for developing new works. The other production, The Devil’s Wife, by Tom Jacobson, is described as a “steampunk fable of Gothic proportions.”

Jennifer Rowland says that “parenthood is harrowing – but it’s also humbling, and I think that people will laugh (and maybe scream!), in recognition of that paradoxical situation. Both of these plays at the Skylight live at the intersection of the real and the supernatural.”

 During an interview, Jennifer explained more about the inspiration for her production.

 How did the idea for this play come about?

The Lost Child is an allegory about parenting. I love fairy tales and magic realism and I’ve always been fascinated by changeling stories, where a person is taken and a magical imposter put in its place. I was doing research on child kidnapping stories and what happens to the parents whose children never come back. I know a number of parents who have children that are dealing with very serious mental health issues or substance abuse. A mother said to me, “the child I knew is gone,” and that stuck with me. As I was writing the play, I realized that every parent loses their child, that’s normal and healthy, but it’s still a loss. The adorable, charming creature of 5 is never coming back and you as a parent have to accept that.

What do you want The Lost Child to communicate, and what do you hope that audiences gain from seeing your play?

Parenting is a roller coaster ride that brings out unimaginably profound and contradictory emotions. You are shocked at the depth of love you have for your child but there are times when you want to wring her neck! Doesn’t mean that you do (most of us don’t of course) but it doesn’t mean you don’t have those feelings. When your child grows up and leaves home, that’s a good and natural thing, but both the parents and the child have to metaphorically kill each other off so that the child can become an adult and the parents can regain their own lives. I hope that The Lost Child makes you feel like you’ve been on a scary, funny, thrilling ride but that its cathartic at the end. Go home, give your kids a big hug and tell them you love them!

Do you have a consistent approach for the way you begin a new work?

I don’t think so… but my husband says I am remarkably consistent. I skulk about for a month or two claiming I am “written out” and “will never have another idea!” Then something sparks or I hear dialogue and I start writing. At a certain point, pretty early on, I figure out the tent poles of the story and then its all about structure and dialogue.

Where do you find the best material for building your characters? Are any characters in this play based on people that you know?

I suppose like most writers, I start with who and what I know. But, at certain point, a wonderful thing happens…the characters start speaking for themselves and you just write down what they say. I live for that moment!

Can you describe your development process at the Skylight theatre? Any unexpected surprises?

Working at the Skylight Theatre has been a wonderful experience! I hope I get to do it again. There are not many theaters that take chances on new work, but that is Skylight’s mission. Gary Grossman and Tony Abatemarco are experienced, smart producers who want the best for the work and work tirelessly to bring about an excellent production. The whole team, from the staff to the technical people and designers are first rate. I felt very lucky to be premiering a play there.

Writers who have influenced your career the most?

Conor McPherson, Martin McDonagh, David Grieg, Alan Ayckbourn… and I reread Death of a Salesman once a year.

What are you working on next, and when can audiences expect to see it?

I am working on a play about a political family. The father is about to announce his run for the Senate when his daughter tells him her ex-boyfriend has posted a sex tape of them. When she goes to seek solace from an old friend she hasn’t seen in a long time, the girl tells her she was raped by the would be Senator. No magic in this story, but it’s a drama about difficult choices between family ties and personal integrity. It’s called Dignity. I haven’t finished it yet so I can’t tell you where it might land! In the meantime, I have a couple other plays floating around that I hope will find a home soon.

Directed by Denise Blasor, The Lost Child stars Addie Daddio, Marilyn Fitoria, and Peter James Smith. It runs on Fridays at 8:30pm and Sundays at 7:00pm through September 3, 2017. The Devil’s Wife by Tom Jacobson, runs in rep on Saturdays at 8:30pm, Sundays 3pm through August 27, 2017. Skylight Theatre is located at 1816 1/2 N. Vermont Ave, LA, 90027. Tickets are $15 – $39. Reservations: 213-761-7061 or online at http://SkylightTix.com

The Lost Child videohttps://youtu.be/_IMtm5LsvQY

 

 

“Last Days Of Summer” Seeking First Place This Winter

Los Angeles: October 27, 2016

Festival circuit darling,  “LAST DAYS OF SUMMER” produced by British born OLIVER RIDGE, is going for another win at the upcoming Whistler Film Festival. Having taken the grand prize for best feature at the Rhode Island Film Festival, the acclaimed drama starring WILLIAM FICHTNER next goes into competition at the prestigious Canadian event, which starts Nov. 30th.

Getting great buzzOliverRidgepic (1) ahead of an anticipated theatrical release next year, the film offers the kind of role we’ve never seen before from Fichtner, best known for “ARMAGEDDON” and “PRISON BREAK” and currently starring in CBS sitcom “MOM.” In Last Days of Summer” he  plays a suburban husband whose quiet life is turned upside down when he becomes obsessed with the beautiful young woman who moves in next door.

“It was an honor to work with such a talented and dedicated actor and make art with him” said producer Ridge, whose Last Days team also included director AARON HARVEY.

Ridge made his directorial debut recently and managed to pull of a coup by being able to recruit Academy Award nominee ERIC ROBERTS to star in Ridge’s “BLUEBIRD,” a poetic short film based on one of the works of the late Charles Bukowski.

We caught up with Oliver Ridge to to talk about his experiences in Hollywood.

Hollywood Revealed: How hard has the transition beenlastdaysofsummerposter (1) for you, moving from the UK to L.A? What were some of the challenges you faced?

Ridge: Driving was pretty scary! Away from that I think media has united us recently in western culture, but certainly when you’re moving five thousand miles away from home, it can be daunting. There are so many people in Los Angeles, but I think the biggest challenge was finding like minded people who I could drink whiskey with and talk movies.

Hollywood Revealed: How did you transition from producing to directing?

Ridge: I loved producing Last Days of Summer, but it certainly made me impatient to be in creative control again. I think that desire made my pre-production for Bluebird even more detailed and thorough, so that helped smooth the transition.

Hollywood Revealed: What kind of genres interest you as a producer/director?

Ridge: Can I say all oliverstepsof them? Because they all do. I want my films to have a universal feel and tone that you can see, but I also want them all to have an emotional weight. I like exploring the darker emotions, because I want my audience to feel something. But specific genres? My next film is a revenge thriller, but I’ve also just finished writing a science fiction film and have plans for a western. So I am all over the place!

Hollywood Revealed: Who are some of the directors you look up to? Who has been your biggest influence?

Ridge: David Fincher and Denis Villeneuve are two of my all time favorites, but Nicolas Winding Refn has certainly had the biggest influence on me.

Hollywood Revealed: Thanks for chatting with us, Oliver.

Ridge: It was a pleasure.